This was the second of my two Design a Tea samples. I was more adventurous with this one. Now that I look at the name I wonder what I was thinking. At the time, the flavors seemed like they’d go well with oolong. I quite liked the GM caramel oolong, but I haven’t really enjoyed any other flavored oolongs that much. Wonder how this one will do.

As with my other sample, I poured the tea out of the little bag it came in and weighed it. This one is 1.4g, so I’ll be making very small cups. If I’d thought about it I could have used this to break in my tiny gaiwan, but I’d already washed out a Finum filter and I poured this in there while it was still slightly damp. If I tried to pour it into the gaiwan now I’d lose a fair amount of the sample to stickage around the edges of the Finum filter. So no gaiwan this time.

The dry leaves look green and a little powdery, and smell like… hazelnut and mocha, but the hazelnut here isn’t the true nuttiness of Florence. It seems a little more of the Frangelico variety.

The liquor on the first steep is a light orange/tan, sort of a light caramel color, and cloudy. I can smell the nuts and mocha, and some butter.

The taste has a very heavy mocha note. An unsweetened coffee. Hazelnut, not so much. It’s kind of amazing that the tea manages to escape being bitter given the unsweetened coffee aspect. Perhaps it is the mediating effect of the oolong’s butteryness. Like my first Design a Tea attempt, this is ok but just ok. Perhaps slightly less ok than the first attempt because the hazelnut isn’t really present in the taste. There’s a generic nuttiness, but not more than I’d expect from a more oxidized oolong even without flavoring.

Second steep, three minutes. Um. Is this really an oolong? I am wondering. Because the resteep is really lame. All the flavors again, but a faded photograph of themselves. Hmmm. Really not hopeful for a third steep but I have to give it a shot at redeeming itself if it really is an oolong, because if it is, steep three should be among the best.

Third steep, four minutes. Now all the flavorings are gone and if there’s an oolong flavor in there, it’s hard to detect because of the strength of the earlier flavors. If it’s there, it is paling by comparison.

This one was not meant to be. It wasn’t awful, but it was not meant to be.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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